Based on current trends, the Union County Election Commission is heeding warnings issued by Union County Clerk Shannon Phillips that the five voting machines used for early voting are likely to fill sometime Thursday.
Each machine holds a cartridge capable of registering 1,200 votes. So far, 4,040 people have voted, Phillips said at 2:30 p.m. Monday. She doubted the 1,960 votes remaining could hold the office for the next week of early voting.
“The voters were lined up when we got here this morning and the pace continues steady and we haven’t had less than 600 any day,” she wrote in an email to the election commission and copied to the News-Times. “I expect all voting machines to fill up around or by the end of day Thursday.”
Per the law, the machines can’t be reloaded with a new cartridge once the current one is filled, Phillips wrote.
“… as much as I hate to see voters stand in line it appears our only option is going to be loading the two demo machines you have in the lobby. Unless you have additional machines this is our only option,” she said.
Commissioner Bill Luther confirmed that the two demonstration machines in the lobby of the Union County Courthouse are the only two remaining machines not already being used for early voting or programmed for the General Election on Nov. 6.
He said Chairman Craig Griffin had contacted Harp Enterprises to schedule a time to program the two demonstration machines for early voting, but wasn’t sure when.
Griffin hasn’t yet returned a voicemail for further explanation.
Should the additional 2,400 votes not be enough to last through 5 p.m. on Nov. 5, the last day to early vote, Luther said the commission will need to print paper ballots.
“And that’s a pain,” he said.
More in tomorrow’s News-Times.